Dragonair has announced plans to add six more aircraft and extend its network in Mainland China and Asia in response to growing air traffic demand in the region. The airline will also speed up product upgrades, including new aircraft seats, inflight entertainment equipment and broadband connectivity, as part of its commitment to providing a premium travel experience.
The additional six aircraft, four Airbus A320s and two Airbus A330s, will enter the fleet this year, expanding the size of the Dragonair fleet from 32 to 38. The carrier will resume services to Guilin, Xian and Taichung by the second quarter of 2012 and is looking into the possibility of adding two to three more new destinations in Mainland China and within the region later in the year. More details will be announced in due course.
Dragonair saw good demand in its premium cabins throughout 2011, though growth was slower in Economy Class. August was a record-breaking month for the airline with new highs for both the number of passengers carried and revenue. The airline’s performance in the first month of 2012 was buoyed by strong demand over the Chinese New Year period and on 29 January Dragonair set a new record for the number of passengers carried in a single day.
Data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows that Asia is driving the growth in aviation and shifting the industry’s centre of gravity eastward. In 2010, about 33% of passengers travelled on routes to, from or within the Asia-Pacific region – more than both North America and Europe. Meanwhile, of the 877 million additional passengers that will be generated between 2010 and 2015, 212 million are expected to fly on routes associated with China.
Commenting on the airline’s expansion plans, Dragonair Chief Executive Officer Patrick Yeung stated that Mainland China has always been and will continue to be Dragonair’s core market. “We see considerable potential for growth in secondary Mainland cities in particular,” he said.
Patrick Yeung added that: “Our forward-looking plans for 2012 in terms of fleet expansion, network growth and product development will put Dragonair in a good position to grasp the opportunities in Mainland China and the region and enable us to continue to offer the best quality products and services to our passengers.”
In light of its expansion plans, Dragonair will look to strengthening its workforce in 2012. The airline targets to recruit about 450 cabin crew, 40 First Officers and 35 cadet pilots during the year.
Dragonair was the first local airline to invest in training pilots from Hong Kong. Since the late 1980s, more than 70 local pilots have graduated from its Cadet Pilot Programme. The airline will continue to invest heavily in cadet pilot training as part of its ongoing commitment to the development of Hong Kong’s aviation industry.
“Looking ahead, we expect 2012 to be a challenging year due to the uncertainty in the global economy, while inflation and fuel prices will push up our operating costs. As we announce our expansion plans we remain cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the year. We remain committed to offering premium products and services to our passengers and will continue to explore the potential in the market,” Mr Yeung said.